Solar Myths

Some solar myths to be wary of when you’re considering buying solar panels. They are a great investment for most people but not for everyone.  Make sure you make an informed decision about whether solar panels are right for you.

You only need daylight for solar panels to work.

I’ve lost count of the number of customers who I’ve visited who have been spun this yarn.  As with most solar myths there is an element of truth in it.  Yes, you need daylight to may solar panels work but if you want them to work efficiently you need decent sunlight.  If you only needed daylight then how would you explain the difference each day in May 2013 that the graph below shows? It’s taken from our own solar pv system and clearly demonstrates the difference a day with lower levels of sunlight make.

4kwp Solar Generation Figures

You will cut electricity bills by 50% if you install solar panels.

Again, another of those solar myths with a tiny grain of truth.  Consider for a minute when you will use electricity in your home.  When will the greatest amount of electricity be used?  When will the greatest amount of electricity be generated? Do the two match?

For most of our customers they use most electricity in the Winter when they generate least solar electricity and they use least electricity in the Summer when they are generating the most.

Most of our customers work during the day – when solar panels generate the most, and are at home during the evening when electricity from solar panels is drastically reduced.

In short – if you have a very low electricity bill (around 2,500 kwh annually) you’re at home through the day and you use the same amount of electricity during the summer then you have a good chance of cutting your fuel bills by 50%.  Perhaps a smallish office with heating from gas or oil where the lighting & appliance requirements are pretty static throughout the year.

If, like me you have a more normal 5,000 ish kwh annual bill then it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get anywhere near 50%.  That doesn’t mean that solar panels aren’t a good idea but to imply 50% is the norm is simply a solar myth!

More cells in a solar panel means the panels are better.

If you think about it – if a solar panel that produces 250w, it doesn’t matter whether it has 60 cells or 72 cells.  It will still only produce 250w.  The only difference between 60 cells and 72 cells is the size of the panel.  60 cells will produce a smaller panel than 72 – another of those solar myths!

Solar Myths

It doesn’t matter how many cells there are it’s the power output that’s important.

A bit of shading won’t make much difference.

Shading on your solar panels from trees, chimneys, flues will make a huge difference to the amount of electricity you generate from your solar panels. With clever design the impact of the solar can be minimised (particularly if you optimise the system) but ignoring it and hoping for the best will lead to disappointing generation and a much longer payback period.

This price is only available for tonight, there’s only a few of these panels left.

One of the biggest solar myths around, but many people fall for it.

Every installer is bound by a code of practice created by RECC.  The key components of which are:

  • To stay in your home no more than 2 hours when quoting
  • No discounts offered on the night price to persuade you to sign immediately
  • Installers/sales people can’t withold the price to the end of the survey.
  • Claim there is limited availability of supplies.

The energy you save + the feed in tariff will pay for your monthly loan repayments.

Yet another of those solar myths with a grain of truth.  If you take a small loan to top up some money you already have to buy the solar panels then this may be true.  In all the cases when I’ve had customers tell me about this the whole of the cost of the solar panels has been provided on finance and the monthly FIT and electricity savings will never cover the cost of the loan.  One recent customer was repaying £110 a month – we calculated he would receive in the region of £600 a year in FIT and electricity savings.  The figures just didn’t stack up but unfortunately for this customer it was too late.

For most people solar panels are a great investment but not for everyone.  Ask questions when your installer comes to do a survey and if they don’t have a slick laptop presentation (we never do) then it often means they have enough confidence in their products and installation to answer any questions you may have without a laptop as a backup.